There is a feeling that you get, at certain gigs, that you are witnessing something special, the like of which will probably not be seen again. Standing here, in Rock City’s smallest room with only a handful of devotees in attendance and watching Chthonic give it their all, you have that feeling – this band are not destined to play small spaces for very long.
Due to terrible traffic and our interview with Chthonic’s bassit Doris running late, we missed a large part of the first band’s set. We did arrive, however, in time to catch the last three songs and it’s fair to say that the amusingly named cacodaemonic have ambition and passion in spades. While lacking in polish and with vocals a touch too much on the side of the cookie monster for this reviewers taste, they displayed admirable musical proficiency and the bassist and guitarist had both worked in interesting ideas for solos that went beyond what one would normally expect from such a band.
The real treat of the night was Chthonic. Arriving on stage to the eerie sounds of ‘Autoscopy’ (the instrumental introduction to their stunning new album) they laid waste to all present with blistering precision and commitment to their art. Promising to treat us to tracks from ‘Mirror of retribution’, they did – pouring forth scalding renditions of ‘Forty-nine Theurgy Chains’, the album’s title track, ‘Blooming blades’ (which sounded even larger on stage than it does on record) and a heart-stopping ‘Venom in my veins’. Vocalist Freddy possessed the stage in the way that much larger bands rarely manage, inspiring the small but devoted crowd to punch the air at regular intervals and even teaching us the Taiwanese for ‘Kill’ to scream at key points during ‘Sing-ling temple’, while the rest of the band put their heart and souls into creating a suitably forbidding back drop of pure death metal fury.
With a band this tight, it is simply impossible to find fault with their performance or presentation and it is a credit to this hard-working band (this is almost the last date on an exhausting world tour) that they turned this evening into a blazing triumph and then, having shattered the audience with their crushing three-song-in-a-row ending came out to talk, pose for photos or sign anything that the audience could pass in their direction – something almost unheard of in a band at their level. Make no mistake, Chthonic are destined for bigger stages in the future and I have no doubt that upon their return to the UK the chance to witness them in so close and personal an environment will have vanished. For the few who were present last night, it was a gig to treasure and remember and I am convinced that everyone there will be along for the ride the next time that this intelligent, energetic band roll into town.